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Designers Pitch In to Help Out Mother Earth

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Have a nice Earth Day.

Certainly, Scott Mednick should. His Los Angeles design firm, Scott Mednick & Associates, created and designed the Earth Day logo that appears on all the posters, T-shirts and bumper stickers supporting the global environmental celebration on April 22.

While you’re at it, save the trees and heal the bay.

Those aren’t hollow words. They represent the goals of several local environmental groups--TreePeople and Heal the Bay--for which another design firm, Bright & Associates, has also recently designed logos.

Neither design firm charged a penny for its environmental efforts. Mednick figures his company--which also creates TV and print ads promoting the CBS-TV lineup--has donated about $170,000 worth of time and materials over the past year to prepare for the Earth Day celebration. And Keith Bright’s Bright & Associates--whose corporate design clients include AT&T; and Warner Communications--has donated an estimated $150,000 worth of creative efforts to three different environmental groups.

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Why are design firms embracing the environment?

Pretty much for the same reasons many other companies are these days: social concern and good publicity.

“Any design firm that’s savvy is addressing the environment right now,” said Sarah Speare, executive director of the Society of Environmental Graphic Designers. “It’s good PR.”

Among the themes being considered for this year’s Fifth Annual World’s Most Memorable Poster Competition--you guessed it--the environment. “We always look at global issues,” said FaniHansen, president of Design International, the San Francisco organization that co-sponsors the competition. “This year we may zoom in on the environment.”

Design firms in the Los Angeles area are proving to be among the most active champions of environmental causes. Executives say this is hardly by accident. A number of environmental groups have headquarters or branch offices here. And executives who run some of the design firms say they were environmental activists long before it became vogue.

“If my goal was just to get publicity, I could have taken that money and bought a year’s worth of advertising in the Wall Street Journal,” said Mednick, president of one of the largest design firms on the West Coast. “The environment has been one of my concerns for years,” said Mednick, who was a founding board member of Earth Communications Office, one of Hollywood’s largest environmental groups.

Two years ago, Bright’s firm created a logo for the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, a group that helps young people find jobs in community cleanup projects. The logo, which shows three interlocking hands, appears on the jackets, shirts and hats worn by the cleanup crews.

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“Next, I’d like my company to play a roll in some sort of recycling program that really works,” said Bright, who proposes an organization of political, business and environmental groups to address the recycling issue in Los Angeles. “It seems that all the recycling being done now is so haphazard.”

Meanwhile, the day designated for environmental activism worldwide, Earth Day 1990, would probably look very different without Mednick’s help. When Chris Desser, executive director of Earth Day, was without a logo for the celebration, she turned to Mednick. “The challenge was to represent the Earth in something that’s not a cliche,” said Desser. She had received numerous unsolicited ideas for Earth Day logos--from sketches of animals to drawings of the universe.

When none of the designs seemed to convey the right message, she telephoned Mednick, whom she knew from other environmental campaigns. Said Desser, “He did it on the first try.”

Mednick created a logo that shows his unusual perspective of the earth. “Obviously, the symbol to use was the globe,” said Mednick. “But whichever side of the globe you show, you’re going to upset someone by not showing the other side.”

So Mednick slightly redesigned the world by placing all the continents on the same side of the globe. “I call it my ‘Last Supper’ solution,” said Mednick. “I could never understand why everyone in the painting of the Last Supper was eating on the same side of the table.”

Recently, all of Mednick’s work for Earth Day came into focus when he unexpectedly saw someone walking down the street in downtown Los Angeles who was wearing an Earth Day T-shirt. “The concept had become a part of this guy’s life,” said Mednick. “That’s worth the $170,000.”

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